Where A Bakery Speaks Of Kashmir’s Syncretic Past
SRINAGAR, (IANS) – Human memory often fails and falters, but history etched in time and chronicles cannot be forgotten.
There might at present be none of the Kashmiri Pandit community living in Batyaar locality of old city Ali Kadal in Srinagar, but the very name stands as testimony to the fact that this was once a predominantly Kashmiri Pandit locality where 600 Pandit families lived in harmony with 29 odd local Muslims families.
A lone bakery shop that once catered to the needs of the predominant Pandit families in Batyaar thereby earning its name as the ‘Bat Kandur’ (Bakery for Kashmiri Pandits) still exists in the locality as the icon of a bygone era of eclectic culture, coexistence and the syncretic lives of the Hindus and the Muslims in Kashmir.
The interior of this 200-year-old shop remains unaltered as does its name even though the bakery originally owned and started by a Kashmiri Pandit has since passed into the hands of multiple bakers.
Local Muslims living in the area say the ‘Bat Kandur’ bakery is their connection with the glorious past of Kashmir.
“The very fact that the name kindles memories of my childhood spent together with my Pandit friends in those golden days proves one great truth. You may momentarily create a wedge between communities, and they might appear to exist on the two sides of the river, yet tradition, culture, and history cannot be obliterated by any force,” recalls Muhammad Afzal Mir 69, who lived in Aali Kadal area and has now relocated to Rawalpora on city outskirts.
The aroma of baked bread from this shop attracts not only the locals but also visitors from outside who visit the place as a monument to the glory of Kashmir’s enviable past.
Bakeries in Kashmir have evolved on the lines of the British legacy with a focus on cakes, pastries, fudges, buns, puffs, tarts, etc., but ‘Bat Kandur’ at Batyaar has withstood the compulsions of the modern era. It is still a down-to-earth Kashmiri traditional bakery not succumbing to the urge for newfound delicacies for the tea table.